What To Do In Montmartre

What To Do In Montmartre, Paris On A Layover

When I was planning a trip to Florence with a friend, we saw that all the flights back to New York City had long layovers. And we took that as a chance to see Paris for a couple of hours.

We were so excited since we had been to Paris together years ago. To make this time a little different, we decided to seek out the film locations of Amelie. The movie was set in the neighborhood, and we could fit in a walking tour of Montmartre and have a nice lunch during our layover. 

Why Choose Montmartre For A Layover?

Montmartre is located in the northern part of Paris, France. It is situated on a hill, known as the Butte Montmartre, which is the highest point in the city. Montmartre is part of the 18th arrondissement of Paris. It is relatively close to Charles de Gaulle Airport, the main international airport in Paris. This makes it convenient for a layover visit, as you can save time on transportation and make the most of your limited time in the city.

The iconic neighborhood is a historic and picturesque neighborhood known for its bohemian atmosphere and artistic heritage. It was once home to famous artists like Pablo Picasso, Vincent Van Gogh, and Pierre-Auguste Renoir, among others. Exploring the narrow, winding streets of Montmartre allows you to immerse yourself in the charm and artistic ambiance of this iconic district.

Getting Out Of Charles De Gaulle Airport For A Layover

This was the last stop on our trip so we didn't need to go through customs. Since we had a large backpack and carry-on suitcase, we decided to drop it off at a luggage storage facility near the RER station. It was super convenient and affordable too. 

It took about an hour to get to Montmartre by metro and train. These are the directions we followed:

What To Do In Montmartre

Montmartre has a distinct bohemian atmosphere that sets it apart from other areas of Paris. It exudes an artistic vibe with its vibrant street art, lively nightlife, and creative energy. Whether you're exploring the bustling Place du Tertre or enjoying a coffee at a sidewalk café, you'll feel the unique and enchanting ambiance of this neighborhood.

Sacré Coeur Basilica

The highlight of Montmartre is the Sacré-Cœur Basilica, perched atop a hill offering breathtaking panoramic views of Paris. The basilica itself is a masterpiece of architecture and features stunning interior design. Climbing the steps to reach the top rewards you with a stunning vista of the city, making it a must-visit attraction.

And it is a lot of steps to reach the top so brace yourself! We saw a bakery and got some croissants before climbing the steps. And, yes, we had to take a break along the way to catch our breath while walking up a Montmartre hill!

Even though it was only nine in the morning, there were a lot of tourists at the church grounds. And this was during the time when there were protests and riots in Paris because the French were protesting the change of the retirement age. Most of the protests were in the city center so it was possible to avoid it and explore other parts of the city.

Of course, the view was amazing! Even though it was overcast and cold, the Parisian skyline anchored by the Eiffel Tower was fantastic. 

Montmartre Walking Tour

Then we started our Montmartre walking tour to see the movie locations of Amelie. The film is about Amélie Poulain, a whimsical and introverted young woman who finds joy in small pleasures and secretly helps others navigate their lives in unexpected ways, all while embarking on her own journey of self-discovery and love in the charming streets of Montmartre. With her quirky charm and endearing innocence, Amélie brings a touch of magic to the lives of those around her, reminding us of the power of kindness and the beauty of embracing life's little wonders. It is a favorite of mine so it was really cool to be able to see the sites.

These are the stops that we made along the way:

Other Sites To See in Montmartre

The Montmartre district is extremely walkable so the sites are quite close to one another. These are the other places that we saw in the neighborhood:

The Moulin de la Galette became a symbol of the bohemian and artistic atmosphere of Montmartre. It was frequented by renowned artists, including Renoir and Van Gogh, who depicted the windmill in their paintings. Today, the windmill stands as a historic landmark and reminder of Montmartre's vibrant past. 

Eat Some French Food

We wanted to have a proper French lunch and headed to Cafe Bruant. We were happy to have a seat and decided to have the most French meal ever - French onion soup, escargot in herbed butter, and mussels with white wine broth. Of course, there was crunchy bread with the meal, and we quickly tore pieces to dip into the broth. A glass of Sancerre wine balanced everything out, and we were happy!

On our way back to the metro station, we stopped by a bakery to get a couple of croissants to take back home. There were a lot of different kinds, but we settled on butter croissants, one with raspberry jam, and another with orange and chocolate chips. 

A Quick Layover in Paris

We had about an eight-hour layover and it was enough to do a quick walking tour of Montmartre. We saw all of the best highlights and were able to get the vibe of this wonderful neighborhood. The neighborhood is a popular movie site and when I saw John Wick 4 after the trip, I recognized most of the scenes of the last section of the movie which were around Montmartre and Sacre Couer. Actually, I love it when I see familiar sites in movies. And after living in Los Angeles and New York City there are many movies that feel special to me!

If you have the chance to do a layover in Paris, then definitely head to Montmartre for a taste of Paris!!